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Cultural Difference Between Musical Education for Chinese and Western Parents When It Comes To The Purpose Of Music For A Child 

The perception of Chinese children:

There is a perception that Chinese children are more naturally capable of learning and mastering music. There are plenty of videos of five years olds performing Mozart at lightening speeds. But how does that happen? Are they really that different to western children when it comes to learning? Or is it the parenting techniques that drives this “talent”? This is a topic that I am quite fascinated about. Now involved in western musical education, helping young children learn music. I had a Chinese upbringing that exposed me to children that had a Chinese upbringing. While I will be focused on Chinese upbringing, there are plenty of other cultures that have similar ideas regarding children’s musical education.

The idea of education for young children:

Education is important in western society, specifically for the UK. It is a very sensitive subject, and one that is discussed a lot amongst parents. In the UK, the majority of parents want their children to go through education, learning at their own pace. They don’t want them to have excessive amount of homework and worry about education being too exam focused. Their focus is for their children to have a nice childhood, have fun and develop great self-esteem.

While in Hong Kong and China, the education is very much geared towards children passing exams. And the teachers have no problem with pushing the children under mountains of homework. They have a real believe that music is essential for a child’s brain development. To the point that many schools only accept children with a certain musical ability. Chinese parents are happy to forgo the happiness of the child if it means they have life time success in both their education on in their career. (Yes, they do think that far ahead from the moment the child gets to kindergarten.)  

The purpose of music for a child

There are the differences in ideas of how music is incorporated into a child’s learning development. On top of that there is also the idea of what is the purpose of music for a child. Most western parents’ focus for a child to learn music is to have fun. Whereas for Chinese parents, they want their child to pass the exams. And their focus is for the child to learn the idea of persistence and hard work through practicing. In many ways, the attitude of parents varies, but the support is the same. Both culture’s parents mean well and want the best for their child. Is just the idea between them is different. Depending on how compliant a child is as well, the type of encourage a parent gives them will develop a child differently. It’s important that the child sparks up a small inner fire within themselves so that music develops into something more concrete in their long term lives. In both cultures, I see parents who don’t want to push their kids, and kids are kids. They may not have the ability to discipline themselves to practice. But I also see parents who force their children to practice so much that they end up hating the instrument.

Getting the balance to long term success

Getting the fine balance so they do learn the idea of effort and hard work while inspiring them to want to do more is important. Even if you see lots of protégée children from Chinese cultures. It’s important to remember that long term success in a child’s life is not determined at age 5. And that inspiration from music can strike at any age, and change their lives for the better. While it is important for them to progress, creativity from learning a musical education is also very important for a child’s self-confidence and self esteem. And that’s an ability that can really translate into other areas of their lives.

About The Author:

Jennifer works at Guitar Tuition East London, a school that provides focused, creative, guitar lessons for kids London, England in the UK. Their teaching is holistic in its approach and has philosophy grounding based on effort and hard work to help each child achieve their potential, while at the same time, remembering to have fun and be creative along the way.